Edifier W820NB Plus: Three-minute review
The Edifier W820NB Plus is a prime example of a cheap pair of wireless headphones that is more focused on keeping its low price than offering the most up-to-date features and a strong performance all round. As the flagship product from the Chinese audio company, the W820NB Plus give you great value for money… as long as you don’t mind seeing some corners cut in the sound department.
This entry in Edifier’s 2023 portfolio of headphones offers a great range of customization over your listening experience: there are three levels of noise cancellation, four different EQ modes and an optional gaming latency toggle to let you tweak the way the cans sound. The touch controls are some of the most convenient I’ve used on a pair of headphones too, letting you change volume and toggle ANC with an easy touch of the right pad.
Unfortunately, the ability to modify your listening experience in-app or using touch controls doesn’t matter as much as it could as the W820NB Plus simply doesn’t sound too great – the mid is seriously lacking and music sounds tinny when the volume is turned up too high. That may seem like a huge issue with the headphones but it’s not – music quality isn’t the only important factor when considering cans and sometimes, features, price and battery life are even more important than sound quality.
The W820NB Plus does have a few other issues, and the main one is in the setup process. Edifier has four different smartphone apps for some reason, and even when you’ve worked out the right one (Edifier Connect), you will need to do some volume tweaking before you can make the most of the cans. Oh, and with no carry case or ability to be folded down, the Edifier W820NB Plus certainly isn’t the most portable headphones on the market either.
Unless you’re looking to spend hundreds on the best over-ear headphones on the market, then you’ll have to contend with the nuanced budget headphone market. As far as sub-$100/£100 headphones go, the Edifier W820NB Plus are par for the course, offering a solid feature set but at the expense of audio quality. But if you’d rather have customization, affordability and easy touch controls over top-tier sound, the Edifier W820NB Plus is worth considering.
Edifier W820NB Plus review: Price and release date
- Released in May 2023
- Priced at $79.99 / £79.99 / AU$80.99
The Edifier were made available to buy in mid-May 2023, as one of the brand’s bustling line of over- or on-ear headphones. They cost $79.99 / £79.99 / AU$80.99, so these certainly count as cheap wireless headphones, designed for people who aren’t audiophiles but don’t want to opt for random tat online.
Edifier’s full headphone line runs from options half that price, to ones four times that cost, so it’s on the lower end but not right at the bottom.
At that price, the competition includes the $130 / £90 / AU$189 JBL Tune 670NC and the $60 / £60 / AU$77 Sony WH-CH520, the latter of which ranks in our list of the best cheap headphones as the premier budget on-ear headphones.
Edifier W802NB Plus review: Specs
Edifier W820NB Plus review: Features
- Total battery life of up to 49 hours
- A little fiddly to set up
- App offers range of handy extra features
You can get quite a bit of extra mileage out of the Edifier W820NB Plus using the app… if you can set it up correctly. You see, Edifier offers four different apps on the Play Store or App Store, and there’s no clear indication on which is the correct one, so you’ve got a 25% chance of picking correctly the first time (let me turn that to 100%: it’s Edifier Connect).
Once you’ve installed the app, it’s incredibly easy to pair the headphones to it, so it’s only the set-up process that’s a pain (which, I must add, isn’t mandatory, as you can use the headphones without it. But the extra functions are handy).
Using the app, you can flick between three noise cancellation modes: off, on, and Ambient. The first two are self explanatory, while Ambient sits somewhere in between, allowing in background noises like vehicles or loud shouts without letting the drone of everyday life get in the way. For the most part, the Edifier’s noise cancellation works well, though it sometimes struggles outdoors with wind or other such forces.
Another feature of the app is a gaming mode, which boosts latency at the slight expense of sound quality. It’s handy for prolific mobile gamers, and can help in competitive games when hearing the direction of footsteps and combat can mean the difference between success and failure.
The other primary feature is that you can use Edifier Connect to move between four EQ modes: Classic, Pop, Classical and Rock. Changing modes has an annoying pause as the assistant voice tells you the new mode, and this gap may be why I struggled to hear a big difference between the modes.
A few other features of Edifier Connect are worth flagging. It has its own on-board volume control that’s independent of your phone’s, so if you’re not aware, the W820NB Plus can sound a little too quiet when you start using them. I’d recommend you crank this to full straight away, and then fully rely on your phone’s volume rocker going forward to change volume.
The other noteworthy feature is fun: Soothing sounds is a library of ambient noises like ‘Twilight resonance’, ‘Relaxing piano with white noise’ or ‘Waves and seagulls’. You could use these to help lull you to sleep, get into a meditative state or, as I found when writing this review, focus your mind to get more productive and write more headphone reviews. Just note that most of these tracks are about a minute long, so you need to turn on the looping function or re-play them every minute.
In terms of battery life, you’re looking at 49 hours, which drops to just 33 when you turn on ambient noise cancellation. That’s over a day of listening whichever mode you have on, which is certainly nothing to turn the nose up at, though it’s not quite the 70 hours of the JBL Tune 670NC or other super-long-lasting low-cost rivals.
The lack of wear detection means that, to save battery, you need to remember to turn off the headphones when you finish listening with them. Thankfully, as described, the buttons are easy to use.
You charge the W820NB Plus using a USB-C cable, and it’ll take roughly an hour and a half for you to get the headphones all the way from empty to full. Fast charging means you can get 7 hours of use from just 10 minutes of charging though, if you’re in a hurry.
- Features score: 4/5
Edifier W820NB Plus review: Design
- Standard-looking headphones with five color options
- Easy-to-use control buttons
- Doesn't fold; no IP rating
The Edifier W820NB Plus don’t exactly shake things up in the world of headphone design, but there’s nothing wrong with that. There are five different color options available: black, gray, green blue and ivory. We tested the latter.
They’re fairly comfy to wear although, as with all headphones, too much continuous wear can lead to some aching. Tactically-placed pads offset this to an extent. The size of the band can be extended some ways, although not as much as on some rival headphones.
On the right can you have the W820NB Plus’ controls: there’s a button that toggles between ambient noise and noise cancellation, a power button and volume up and down buttons. They’re all fairly easy to find and use, though as the buttons don’t protrude much, it can be a case of trial and error on your first few attempts at using the headphones. You’ll quickly get used to the positioning though.
You’re not getting a 3.5mm headphone jack on the cans – sorry, people who like to have wired connectivity as an option, but you won’t be able to do so here. You’re also not getting an official IP rating, so handle with care.
Another thing sadly absent from the Edifier is any form of portability consideration. You can’t fold the headphones down into a smaller form factor, there’s no included carry case, and the structure and build of the cans don’t feel suited to being shoved in a backpack. If you’re not planning to wear these on your head or around your neck, you can’t really take them anywhere!
- Design score: 3.5/5
Edifier 820NB Plus review: Sound quality
- Limited sound stage
- Initially a little quiet
After a few sections of praises, the Edifier W820NB Plus delivers in the audio section a result a bit more in keeping with its price. By no means does music played over the headphones sound bad, but it doesn’t really sound good enough – it’s much more middle-of-the-road.
The main issue is that the headphones lack a palpable sound stage, so the bass doesn’t sound low and the treble doesn’t sit above the mid – music sounds like one unidentified mush of sound and mid sounds are a little lost in the melee.
Once you’ve gotten past the app volume problems mentioned earlier, the W820NB Plus can get nice and loud, but at higher volumes the music sounds quite tinny, especially those mid sounds that are struggling to cut into the mix as is.
To be clear, the Edifier W820NB Plus still sound decent – I used them for lots of movie watching and music streaming beyond what’s required for review testing – it’s just decent ‘for the price’. They’re a far cry from cheapie Amazon headphones or the kind your grandma might buy you for Christmas, but they won’t compare to $150 / £150 / AU$200 plus rivals from the major brands.
- Sound quality: 2.5/5
Should I buy the Edifier 820NB Plus?
Buy it if…
Don’t buy it if…
Edifier 820NB Plus review: Also consider
How I tested the Edifier 820NB Plus
- Tested for over 20 days
- Tested at home, in the office, on public transport and on walks
I tested the Edifier 820NB Plus for over three weeks before starting to write this review, so they were subjected to quite a bit of use.
Testing was done while in quiet rooms like my home and the office, while on walks around my local area and also on public transport like coaches, tubes and buses. I mostly used it while connected to my Xiaomi Mi Note 10 Android phone for music streaming, calls and gaming, but also paired it sometimes to my iPad Pro to watch movies or TV shows.
I've been testing tech gadgets for TechRadar for over five years now. Currently, I write freelance for several sections including audio, but previously I worked as a staff writer and section editor for the phones section.
- First reviewed in February 2024